Sunday, August 06, 2023

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 6

Today's Happiness: Roadway with Underpass (The Viaduct). That old saying, "I don't know art but I know what I like" applies to me. As my friend Elaine and I took in the 75 paintings and drawings in the special Van Gogh exhibit, this is the one that really grabbed me.

I don't know why exactly. Yes, I like the autumnal colors. But perhaps I appreciated how he found beauty in a scene that most people who saw it back in the 1880s wouldn't have stopped to look at, or if they did, might have found an industrial eyesore. I also wonder about that traveler. Where is he going? Is it safe?

So yeah, I got a little culture today. And it didn't hurt at all!

I was young once, too, you know!

For four days every August, literally hundreds of thousands* of young people descend upon Grant Park for Lollapalooza and live alternative rock, metal, punk, hip hop and dance music. Waylon Jennings even played it one year, so I guess I should include country in that list. Still, it's safe to say that at 65, I am not in the Lollapalooza demographic. 

Though I did attend once myself, in 2015, to see Sir Paul on the main stage, I generally try to avoid the Loop during Lolla. It's crowded. There's an influx of tourists who stand in the middle of the sidewalk (or worse, the street) trying to figure out where they're going when I'm in a hurry. Plus, August is always hot and I don't do heat, so things that would merely annoy me under normal circumstances really, REALLY grate!

But that was before. For the first August in 48 years, I'm not a working girl. So I'm really in no rush most of the time. And it was only in the 70s on this rainy Sunday, so it was certainly bearable. When my newly retired herself friend Elaine invited me to go to the Art Institute of Chicago with her to see the special Van Gogh exhibit, I said, "sure."

I rode the rails down and yes, the train was ridiculously crowded for 9:30 on Sunday morning. I was surrounded by festival goers wearing bandanas and Crocs and carrying clear backpacks. (So many young women still carrying Hello, Kitty keyrings and phone cases!) They were polite and quiet and very nice, making me realize it wouldn't fucking kill me to not be so judgemental and remember that I was young once and probably just as prone to annoy as these kids.

It was raining as I walked the half hour to Michigan Avenue and the Art Institute. On the way I tried to remember the last time I went in. I believe it was in 1992, right after Bill Clinton was elected and my niece was born. Considering we've had six Presidential elections since then, and my niece just moved into her first home with her husband, I think I was past due for a return visit. 

Elaine is a member so we were able to skip the line and just float into the exhibit. In addition to all the Van Goghs, we saw The Picture of Dorian Gray by Ivan Albright. Elaine liked it better than I did, but it gave us something to discuss over lunch. We speculated about how our "soul" portraits might look. I told her that since she handled the end of her working career with such dignity, hers probably looks just fine. That seemed to make her happy. I was happy to help. After all, it wasn't that long ago that I was struggling to adjust to retirement.

*It was 400,000 last year